Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sufi Saints Photo Workshop | Back In Delhi

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Comfortably ensconced in a lovely room at the New Delhi's Claridges Hotel, raising my feet up and watching utter drivel of the television, while hoping for my nasty viral/bronchial infection to resolve itself, I decide to write this post in a rare moment of un-fevered lucidity.

What to write about the experience of photographing at the annual observance of the Sufi Saint Moin'Uddin Chisti's death...except to say that it was mind-blowing. Some parts of it were staid and commonplace such as the times of prayers (called namaz in India and South Asia), while others caused my jaw to drop almost to ground level. The all too short theatrical entrance of the malang, a group of very unusual characters, who crack whips and pop their eyeballs from their sockets to scare the bejesus out of people, was one of these extraordinary sights.

I intend to write more at length on the whole of the Sufi Saints Photo Workshop at a later stage, but I must say it was a uniquely memorable experience, even for someone like me who has seen and photographed weird stuff like that for quite a while.

My multimedia production of the Urs is almost ready, and subject to some fine tuning, will be made public in a few days.

I met a number of characters who were at the Nizam Uddin dargah in Delhi before the start of our workshop,  such as Bilal the pankiwallah, Junnaid the black-clothed fakir, and of course the awesome malang (below) with the unique style sense. Sadly, I didn't come across the latter, although some in my group photographed him in Ajmer.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved.

I have to thank Tahoor Chisti, a young khadim and a descendant of Moin'Uddin Chisti who was the epitome of grace and hospitality during our visits to the dargah, and made it possible for all of us to obtain photo permits that are normally only available to the media/press.

My thanks also to Shuchi Kapoor who assisted me on this workshop, making it much easier in so many respects, as well as introducing me to a group of hijras in Ajmer. I hope she gained some insight from this workshop that will help her progress in her career.

I should also mention the thrilling event of my iPhone being pickpocketed by a rather muscular thief,  and I shaking it loose off him without regards to my personal safety.

My lucidity is now it's best to close this post now.